Work on Gwayi-Shangani Hydro-power station begins
Nqobile Tshili, [email protected]
PRELIMINARY works for a 10 megawatts Hydro-Power Station to be constructed at Lake Gwayi- Shangani in Hwange district have started.
To increase power generation in the country, the Government is working on a programme to construct hydro-power stations at all the big dams countrywide.
The ongoing construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani will create multiple benefits for the country including solving Bulawayo’s perennial water crisis and creating a greenbelt for Matabeleland region among other economic benefits.
The century-old project failed to commence under successive administrations and only started under the Second Republic. President Mnangagwa has prioritised the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani and is one of the projects he said he will ensure are completed during his second term.
Eleven contractors who were engaged to lay the 252KM Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline are now on the ground and have cleared 60 percent of the conveyance pipeline’s path with 10km of the trench already dug. Yesterday, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo led a team of senior Government officials in the province to assess progress on the construction of the big dam.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) assistant resident engineer Lucio Chayeruka briefed the Minister’s team on the works that have been done on the ground including preliminary works of the hydro-power station. He said the project needs at least US$8 million a month and delays in releasing the funds was negatively affecting progress.
“The Lake Gwayi- Shangani dam wall is now 39 metres high and the target is 72 metres. Construction is underway and we are constructing the mini-hydro power plant, which will generate 10MW,” said Eng Chayeruka.
He said the dam apart from supplying water to Bulawayo, will provide water for irrigation along the pipeline as well as water for power generation. The lake will also be a tourist attraction.
When the Chronicle news crew arrived at the site, there wasn’t much activity with only a few workers on the ground.
Minister Moyo said he will engage responsible ministers so that the funds are released as soon as possible.
“The construction has stalled because of funding. The resident engineer was explaining to us that following the elections they are yet to get funding.
I will engage Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka who is in charge of the project and Finance and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube so that they can release funds to complete this project,” he said.
President Mnangagwa has made it clear that he will ensure these projects are completed during his second term hence the need to resume work as soon as possible.
Minister Moyo said the project will transform lives in the Matabeleland region through the provision of sufficient water supplies to Bulawayo while also contributing to the country’s economic growth.
“Its impact will be felt nationwide as tourism facilities will be established here. There will be irrigation schemes along the pipeline and electricity will also be generated here,” he said.
Minister Moyo said while the expectation was to start impounding water this year, experts have said this will no longer be possible.
“In terms of impounding water, the engineers said it is not safe to do so before they complete the construction of the dam wall. They also said communities that need to be relocated are yet to be moved although land has been identified,” he said.
Mr Moyo said businesses, schools and clinics are also going to be affected by the construction of the dam.
He said the impounding of water was now expected to start during the 2024/25 rainy season.
Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said 155km of the 252km pipeline had been cleared.
“Work on the laying of the 252-kilometre pipeline meant to convey water from the Gwayi-Shangani Dam to Bulawayo is on course with all the 11 contractors now on-site. The pipeline constitutes the second phase of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) which will be the permanent solution to the perennial water shortages for Bulawayo,” she said.
Mrs Munyonga said Zinwa is conducting surveys to establish the number of institutions and households along the pipeline in order to come up with a water demand estimate.
She said works are also underway to construct six pump stations along the pipeline.
“The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has since produced a grid assessment report which will guide the electrification of the pumping stations and Zinwa now awaits Zesa’s advice on the possible power connection points.”
The 650 million cubic metre Lake Gwayi-Shangani, one of the flagship projects being spearheaded by the Second Republic, is a game changer for Bulawayo and the entire Matabeleland region.
Government has said it is committed to ensuring the project is completed on time to guarantee reliable water supply to Bulawayo for the next 80 years. The city will stop drawing water from some of its supply dams in Matabeleland South province once it starts being supplied by the Lake.